Singh will be deported, border agents are assured

Posted by admin on Jan 23rd, 2008

IAN BAILEY, From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail. January 22, 2008 at 4:21 AM EST

VANCOUVER — Border agents in B.C. have been assured by their managers that Laibar Singh, a paralyzed refugee claimant from India, will be deported at some point, says the head of the national border-guards union. “It’s not a question of if, but when it’s going to be executed,” said Ron Moran, president of the Customs and Excise Union. “That’s what they have been told.” He was referring to a conversation yesterday with one of his union leaders in British Columbia, where some officers in the removals unit of the Canada Border Services Agency have expressed frustration with the way managers are handling Mr. Singh’s case. Federal Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, responding to union suggestions that the Singh case is causing a morale problem among border agents, congratulated officers yesterday for successfully completing 12,000 removal orders.

Mr. Day said he would not talk about the specifics of Mr. Singh’s case, but noted the government expects individuals who have exhausted all their appeals to obey the law.

“There may be a time or two in those 12,000 removals where border officers need to show some sensitivity in a particular situation. The officers know that does not detract from their responsibility. They are capable, highly trained individuals.”

Mr. Singh, 48, came to Canada from India on a false passport in 2003. His appeals to stay in Canada have been complicated by the fact that he was left a quadriplegic by a medical crisis that has variably been described as an aneurysm and spinal infection.

He has been provided shelter in Sikh temples, most recently the Guru Nanak temple in Surrey, where he is being cared for by supporters and doctors who are donating their services. Two efforts to remove Mr. Singh have been called off due to rallies of hundreds of his supporters.

As first reported in The Globe and Mail this week, Mr. Moran has expressed concerns about the suggestion that the case of Mr. Singh has gone on too long, frustrating B.C.-based members of his union.

A confidential assessment of the situation, prepared for Mr. Moran by a B.C. employee of the agency’s removals unit, said most officers feel “not removing Mr. Singh makes us look impotent.”

The author of the assessment says officers are “very frustrated about how the case is being handled, and how it makes us look.”

Mr. Moran said he is hoping to discuss the issue with Alain Jolicoeur, president of the CBSA, during a meeting today. He said he expected there would be aspects of the case Mr. Jolicoeur would disclose for a frank discussion because Mr. Moran would not then disclose them to the media. “There may be things he can share with me that I won’t share,” he said.

Mr. Day said deportation orders stand whether or not their subjects are in sanctuary. “They are in defiance of the law if they are not subjecting themselves to that removal order. That is the state of the situation,” he said. But the minister did not offer any timetable for action against Mr. Singh.

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